The open road

February 8, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Every theatre is focussed on producing comedies – “People need to laugh,” they say.

“People just want to escape all the bad news” or “We tell people to come to the theatre and have a good time.” 

Theatre Orangeville produced a Panto over the Christmas holidays. It was silly, innocent, kidding – and great. We were told, “All the shows were sold out! People were coming two and three times because it was never the same – the Silly Sisters were going into the audience – we never knew what was going to happen but the guys were ready for it!”

People have stopped listening to their radios – so to speak – turning the news off, sure they couldn’t change any of it – worried it is too late…

“People need the lights and the fun – outside life is difficult,” says the M.C. ”Forget about it, inside here in the theatre, everything is beautiful – even the orchestra is beautiful…” (more or less)

Tonight, me too. I had begun a column, tough, telling it like it is – as it is – but no. Next week maybe, when I have had the laughs at the Opening Night at Theatre Orangeville of Norm Foster’s “Doris and Ivy in the Home,” listening to his quick-witted repartee, watching the actors rolling the lines with such pleasure – theirs and mine, the theatre full of the laughter of all of us, taking that much-needed break from the news.

Somehow, I was just about to write tough, when a lovely picture – a perfect memory drew attention to itself from quite some time ago. Yet, it is still so sharp, I can smell the ocean and see those few pink and orange stretches as the sun’s early beams lit the water and land around our tiny tent. We only had to barely push our faces through the flaps to see the dawn’s rising glory, the treasure of a perfect second or six before a real beginning to the day.

Our tent was on a patch of grass overlooking the Aegean Sea on the coast of Turkey, some distance south of Izmir. Ours was a simple setup of folding furniture and a Coleman stove. We made a humble meal of bread and cheese, basic tea hot in our cups. However minimal was our meal, what filled our eyes was stupendous. A completely calm picture, with a mellow sea and no thought of storms. The coast is rocky all along the route that Ernest and I had followed but the road had been easy and for this time, our challenge was only to hold on to this wonderful moment. Young as we were, our lives largely unplanned, we were travelling as we pleased. At one point in our idea of driving down through Greece, my map pointed out that Istanbul was a mere 1,000 kilometres east. It had been a left-hand turn and we took it.

We dallied in the complicated and colourful city, deciding to carry on down the coast to the point where we were watching this sunrise and making up our minds about the next few days. We headed back more or less as we had come and came upon the ruins of the once fabulous ancient city of Ephesus. Keep in mind, please, there were not the throngs of visitors to the less central ruins or at least on this day, there were not many people but there were columns and stones to tell the stories of a once mighty port. Mighty it may have been but in “262 AD, the Goths destroyed Ephesus,” and the deterioration of the city continued, hopelessly leaving it in ruins. Although the Romans returned the city to bring it back to its importance as a port, it never regained the majesty of its very early times.

Wanting a stop later, we saw a very nice picnic spot, several canopies over tables and benches. Thinking to once again camp in such an ideal place, we set ourselves up, spreading ourselves in the biggest space, not really thinking the matter through.

Before too long, a family of Turks arrived to the park and began to set themselves up in our very space.

When I objected, pointing to the other canopies and tables, they were surprised and offended. Finally, we sorted out our languages and they told me: there was plenty of space for us all and more people might come and need the other places.

“Here in Turkey, we welcome strangers and expect to share with them, our space and whatever we have they do not,” one told me in a mix of German and English.

In many ways, it was stunning. I thought of how in Canada, strangers were very unlikely to simply infringe, as I saw it, on the space of other strangers, quite the opposite to what we were being told.

We apologized, making an effort to explain but they had already forgiven us, seeing we had learned. Soon, we were still stumbling over our languages but we were laughing and comparing what was for lunch,

Theirs was better, I can tell you.

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